Q&A with Jamie Quinn, Florida Center for Reading Research

August 18, 2020

Dr. Jamie Quinn is a methodologist and psychometrician on the Reach Every Reader project and is a research faculty member in the Quantitative Methodology and Innovative Division of FCRR. Dr. Quinn earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology in 2016 at Florida State University. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at The University of Texas at Austin, she joined the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) as a postdoctoral research scholar in 2017, and entered the position of Research Faculty I in early 2018.

Her research and methods interests include multilevel modeling, longitudinal methods, meta-analysis, and methods for understanding individual differences in educational development and attainment, specifically with regards to literacy and language. For fun, Dr. Quinn likes spending time with her fiancé by playing video games and watching Star Trek (they are currently on Deep Space Nine – no spoilers! J), running and training for nothing in particular, hanging out with her two chonky cats, and annoying her fiancé by bringing home new plants more often than he would appreciate.

Describe what you and the Reach Every Reader program are doing with measurement and assessments?

I have been working with an incredible team of researchers to help develop and test a new iPad application to examine young students’ language and early literacy skills. We have been working with elementary schools spread across three locations in the US including Florida, South Carolina, and Oregon. Currently, we are using item response theory analyses to determine the range of difficulties for the items we have administered. Our plan is for the iPad application to be completely self-sufficient by being computer adaptive, so that it may provide quick diagnostic information tailored to each student for use by teachers and practitioners.  An additional goal of our project is to gamify the application, so that it will be fun and engaging for young students to complete.

How did you become interested in measurement and assessment, and how is your work with Reach Every Reader fulfilling that interest?

During my graduate school program, I had the unique opportunity to complete a certificate in education science through a predoctoral fellowship. In order to complete the certificate, I had to take multiple statistics and measurement courses that introduced me to variety of quantitative methods that I still use to this day. Through these courses and my graduate degree, I consider myself a methodologist interested in the intersection of education research and quantitative research.

When I was first told of Reach Every Reader and the role FSU was to play within the project, I was really excited to be given the opportunity to use and cultivate my methods knowledge. My role as a psychometrician on the project with Reach Every Reader has provided me an amazing opportunity to grow as a researcher and methodologist.

How has COVID had an impact on your research or work, and how are you moving forward?

COVID has had a large impact on our research. Personally, my work as a methodologist can fortunately be done completely remotely. However, as a team, given that our data collection has been completely conducted in-person, we have had to alter our thinking in how to collect data when schools might be closed or if outside vendors are not allowed within schools that do open. One small benefit of this hurdle has been in thinking through how can we deliver our assessments virtually, and the potential impact this may have in advancing accessible technology in the future. Because we need to consider the probable outcome that we will not be able to conduct face-to-face assessments in fall of 2020, our team is innovating in ways previously not thought possible. I am excited to see how we overcome these barriers in new and unique ways.

What is your favorite thing about your work with Reach Every Reader?

My favorite thing about my work with Reach Every Reader would have to be feeling like I am a part of something bigger than myself. I work with an incredible team of researchers including Yaacov Petscher, Hugh Catts, Sarah O’Dell, Cody Diefenthaler, and countless others who humble me with their knowledge, experience, and passion for this project. I truly feel that the work that we are doing will impact many, many children. Endeavoring to create a quick, accurate assessment of a child’s language and literacy skills in no small feat, but given the ever-increasing need to access education technology both within the classroom and at home, I am confident in our project’s ability to positively affect educational outcomes. I am so honored to be a part of a team that will see this assessment come to life, and for the ability to learn and grow as a researcher and scientist.